I first attended Denver Seminary because I didn’t hear anything from God.
I was transitioning from work in cardiovascular research to collegiate ministry. Three years later, I realized my need for deeper theological foundations and began researching seminaries. I narrowed my choices to Denver Seminary and Trinity Evangelical Divinity School—both great schools, and what I felt was a coin-flip decision.
For weeks I’d asked God to lead me to one seminary or the other. I sought friends and family to pray and discern God’s lead with me. Facing an enrollment deadline, I decided to seek God’s voice on this critical decision by fasting. Three days later, I had heard nothing and was terribly hungry—not the discernment process I’d hoped for. Having no sense of God’s specific leading, I decided on Denver Seminary for two reasons: my best friend lived here, and I wanted to snowboard. Those were the tiebreakers, and neither seemed very spiritual to me.
Most of us have asked similar life questions, wanting God to speak into relationship, occupation, economic, or ministry decisions. But for some, the earnest desire to know God’s pleasure is met with confusion. Are they just not listening, or is God speaking at all?
Dallas Willard suggests that there are three common, though mistaken, interpretations of how God speaks to us. The message-a-minute view assumes that God will always tell you what to do if you are listening or willing to ask. The it’s-all-in-the-Bible view is well intended but ignores “the need for personal divine instruction within the principles of the Bible yet beyond the details of what it explicitly says.” The whatever- comes view assumes a determinism of God that eliminates relational discernment with Him because everything that happens is believed to be the guidance of God.
Assuming the Living God does speak to His people today, then how does He do so? And how should His people posture themselves as listeners?